The air navigation service is left without money, dispatchers leave en masse

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The air navigation service is left without money, dispatchers leave en masse
The air navigation service is left without money, dispatchers leave en masse
30 August, 10:57Photo: Яндекс-дзен
The State Corporation for the Organization of Air Traffic (GK ATM, is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Air Transport Agency) is in a fever. It has already left more than 600 employees, including air traffic controllers.

Today, the whole huge team will have to make an important decision. We are talking about the threat of dismissal of several hundred people.

Yekaterina Maksimova

On August 29, all branches of the state corporation, which is responsible in Russia for air navigation services for airlines and the entire air navigation infrastructure, received a warning letter signed by acting. Director General of the GK ATM Vladimir Gulchenko: the corporation's revenue does not cover expenses.

“There is a risk of a situation with non-payment of wages at the end of September”, - the document says (available to NI). But that's not the worst news yet. Highly qualified employees of the service are forced to quit and vote for wage cuts.

In addition to the dispatch from Mr. Gulchenko, a proposal was sent to the branches of the state corporation (and there are 19 of them in the country): on Tuesday, August 30, to conduct a survey among employees. Today, the specialists on whom all aviation rests were offered to vote for one of two options: from October 1, to index wages by 0.5% and not to reduce staff. Or index the wage fund by 5%, but then dozens of employees will be laid off in each of the branches. And hundreds - if you take the entire corporation.

To understand the meaning of what is happening, it is worth recalling that until recently the ATM Group was one of the most financially stable Russian companies. According to the report of the corporation, in the pre-Covid 2019, the revenue of the ATM Group exceeded 116 billion rubles. In 2020, when the flight network was significantly reduced due to the pandemic, revenue fell to 64 billion rubles. The ATM Civil Code ended the year with a loss of 28 billion rubles. In 2021, the situation improved slightly - revenue of 80.9 billion rubles, net loss - more than 17 billion rubles. 80% of the corporation's income (air navigation fees) depended on the frequency of flights by foreign airlines, the rest was "brought" by Russian aviators.

The company's report indicates that at the end of 2021, the state ATM had 29.6 thousand people. The monthly wage fund (without social payments) exceeds 4 billion rubles. Accordingly, annually about 50 billion rubles are spent on wages.

As the chairman of the Trans-Baikal primary trade union organization of the FPAD of Russia, the dispatcher of the East Siberian branch of the KG ATM Vasily Zandanov, explained to Novye Izvestiya, in the “well-fed” years (before the coronavirus pandemic), the trade union was able to conclude a collective agreement, according to which the indexation of employees’ wages should be carried out two times a year: 1 April and 1 October.

“At first, Moiseenko (Igor Moiseenko, ex-head of the corporation - ed.) asked us to be patient with the indexation of salaries, referring to the difficult financial situation. Then they began to send us to idle time, that is, people are already losing wages. Now they are forcing us to vote for indexation at 0.5%, instead of 8% - at the level of inflation. The letter about non-payment of wages in September is an element of blackmail so that we agree to at least a minimum indexation. If it is not carried out at all, then this will turn into a collective labor dispute and litigation. And so it turns out - the people themselves voted for such a minimum”, - explained Vasily Zandanov.

Earlier, the leader of the trade union of air traffic controllers of Russia, Sergey Kovalev, publicly stated that a so-called idle contract was introduced for air traffic controllers, engineers and technicians. “Workers receive two-thirds of their wages. Introduced part-time working hours: part-time work week or part-time for other staff. Workers lost 20%. The situation, of course, brought them to the point that they began to quit”, - said Kovalev.

According to his estimates, 640 people have recently left the state corporation. There are more than 200 of them - these are directly air traffic controllers, including those of retirement age. It was easier for old-timers of the industry to agree to leave with "golden parachutes" (12 salaries) than to wait for the collapse of the company.

In January 2022, we recall that the top management of the state corporation decided to lay off 800 employees, primarily from among the administrative and managerial apparatus.

As Vasily Zandanov explained, managers have already begun to fall under layoffs. “When there were huge incomes, the administrative and managerial staff was greatly inflated. The heads of departments hired mainly their relatives. This was the case throughout the corporation. Now they are getting rid of them. For example, the administrative and managerial staff of Eastern Siberia is about 450 people. 150 were fired. And with such a policy, highly qualified specialists will follow”, - Zandanov added.

But if no one even notices the departure of office workers, then a massive outflow of qualified personnel can become a serious problem for the entire aviation industry of the country.

And the ATM Control Group really has no money. “At the beginning of 2022, the corporation still had a margin of safety - about 13.5 billion rubles. In January and February, when air traffic picked up, there was enough money for salaries. But since March, it hasn't. Those 13 billion that were at the beginning of the year have been “eaten up”. At the beginning of August, about 5 billion rubles remained. This is only for salaries, but besides that, you still need to cover operating costs - more than 6 billion rubles a month”, - Vasily Zandanov specified.

Andrey Patrakov, the founder of the international network of AIM Group experts , believes that the difficulties of the state corporation "fit" into the general situation: the industry has many problems that no one has dealt with for decades. And now urgent measures are needed to at least save personnel.

“It's one thing to cut staff who are not engaged in core activities, it's another thing to force experienced specialists to leave. If the traffic will be restored, then how to replace them? This is not McDonalds, where you can change the sign and recruit staff in a week. It takes years to certify such a specialist. If there is no air navigation, then flights will stop even before the moment when Russian airlines start having problems with the repair, maintenance and cannibalization of foreign aircraft. Without air navigation, planes simply will not take off”, - Andrey Patrakov comments.

RTCA and EUROCAE expert Andrey Yablokov hopes that the state corporation will stay afloat due to subsidies from the federal budget. “The Ministry of Transport has agreed on a subsidy to support the ATM Control Group in these difficult times, when borders are closed and traffic has decreased and, accordingly, fees. And if before the pandemic it was one of the richest corporations, then the events of the last few years have greatly influenced this structure,” Andrey Yablokov commented.

The state corporation is expected to receive a subsidy of 13.9 billion rubles in September. This is enough to hold out for several months, pay salaries and reduce the degree of social tension in the corporation. For 2023, the government is also ready to subsidize the ATM Control Group in the amount of about 10 billion rubles. Given the current needs of the company and the current state of affairs, such an amount is a penny.

The press service of the GK ATM has not yet responded to the request of “NI”.

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